The Malta Business Weekly
After 50 years, hundreds of families will be recognised as homeowners through the Lands Authority scheme
Peace of mind is being provided to hundreds of families in Malta and Gozo, who will be offered the opportunity to regularise the title of the land on which their house is built, which in turn will lead to their recognition as homeowners, Minister for the Economy and Industry Silvio Schembri said.
The scheme was launched by the Lands Authority at Tas-Salvatur area in Rabat. This area was chosen as the first locality to serve as a pilot project before it is extended to other areas such as Tal-Landrijiet, Baħrija and Dingli.
Schembri said that this government is addressing past problems. He said that this scheme will address those ordinary residences which are built on government land, granted by temporary leases which purpose was an agricultural one, as well as those ordinary residences that are built on government land granted by leases or rather, agricultural rent.
He recalled that in the past, around 50 years ago, many of these areas were classified as rural settlements in the local authority’s land plans. This, together with the planning permits, has led to a situation in which these residents are living inside a residence that has a Planning Authority permit but are in limbo, as they do not have the correct title of the land and thus their asset is worthless.
He said that over time, it has become more evident that the only way to avoid the possibility of hundreds of families losing their homes is to launch a scheme designed to regularise these properties, through the granting of valid titles, as permitted by law.
He clarified that this scheme will not regularise any unauthorised buildings in ODZ areas or allow new
Minister for the Economy and Industry Silvio Schembri
permits to be issued. This scheme has nothing to do with permits. On the contrary, to be eligible for this scheme, the building must be the residence of the applicant and covered by a permit from the Planning Authority.
Minister Schembri announced that from now on, for those residences built on
government-leased land, the conversion to a residential lease is being offered. At the same time, for those who are recognised as lessees by this scheme, the temporary lease is converted into a perpetual lease according to the lease rates as published in the Government Gazette. In the event of a perpetual lease being granted, it must be redeemed by no later than 15 years from the date of the contract, so that a free and open title is finally obtained.
To give the public the incentive to regularise their situation, the penalties will be reasonable. The aim is to offer a fair but affordable deal for all these families.
Minister Schembri concluded that: “This is an investment in the life story of these people. This concerns people who know that in their will they were going to leave their children a property that is worthless because it has a defective title and this after striving as hard as they could to buy it and build it. This is the kind of economy that benefits everyone.”
Robert Vella, CEO of the Lands Authority explained how the scheme will function, as well as an account of the process and who will be eligible for this scheme. The scheme will be open to those who have proof that they are the residents of such properties and that they have the requested permits of the Planning Authority.